0 165
Local poets worked with students during a TASC advisory period at Contoocook Valley Regional High School. | by ConVal Staff

by Clement Doucette

Changing the Hudson High School schedule has always been a rocky and difficult process.  

A previous schedule change, conducted in 2013, introduced the current, five-block rotation.  However, since the implementation of this schedule, a committee of concerned faculty members has noticed an increasing divide in our school’s culture.  Teachers June Murray and Lonnie Quirion lead this committee, known as ARC (Academics, Relationships, and Community). Their work began with a desire to mend this cultural divide.

“It felt like we were moving farther and farther away from things that were always really important to me, like service and relationships,” said Murray. “We decided the best way to start this process was by creating a survey and trying to figure out where students and staff landed regarding how things had shifted in our culture.”

The results of the survey confirmed the ARC committee’s beliefs.  Using the survey as a basis for their work, the committee pondered various ways to address the increasing problem.

The results of the ARC survey revealed a divide between students and faculty. | by Clement Doucette

“The idea began with the concept of perhaps having an advisory program,” said Murray. “However, we have a history at Hudson High School when we tried a program similar to an advisory period called “clustering” that didn’t necessarily work as well as we had hoped.”

School administration implemented clustering after the construction of the current Hudson High School building in the early 2000s  It involved students meeting once weekly to participate in a teacher-monitored activity of their choice.  Students and teachers would pick their activities at the start of the school year.  

Although the program functioned in theory, a lack of student participation marred the effectiveness of the program.  Many did not take the programs seriously.  Clustering continued for several years until it was finally discontinued, leaving many faculty members with bad memories.  Still, the ARC committee insists that their advisory program would not face the same struggles that clustering faced.

“I did a lot of talking to people and there was this woman, Rachel Calder, who is probably one of the most cutting edge people who works with schools to help them change their structure,” said Murray. “One of the things she said to me was to contact the ConVal High School in Peterborough, New Hampshire, because they were doing something interesting.”

At Contoocook Valley Regional High School, frequently shortened to “ConVal,” students participate in a daily, 40-minute advisory period called TASC, intended for academic support and enrichment.  At the start of the week, students work with a “home-base” TASC adviser to arrange their schedule for the following four days.  For example, a student struggling with math may choose to work with their math teacher during one of that week’s advisory periods.  During these TASC periods, teachers work with no more than fifteen students at a time.

The ARC committee will base their schedule on the ConVal High School schedule with a 40-minute advisory period. | by Clement Doucette

Although it may seem difficult to track students during the period, a high-tech solution amends this problem.  Teachers conduct scheduling through a custom-made computer program designed by a ConVal staff member.  ConVal offers this program to other interested schools at prices ranging from $1,500 to $3,000, depending on features, and comes with an app that would allow students to access their schedule through the week.  If students do not show up for their advisory period, they face discipline for skipping class.

Gretchen Houseman, a Spanish teacher and member of the ARC committee, sees this scheduling system as a benefit to her students.

“In terms of scheduling, it really calls the students to take ownership of their own schedule, and I really liked that,” said Houseman.  “The students could decide what they were interested in, who they would be with, and where they would go during that time.”

Principal Brian Reagan also appreciates these aspects of the schedule.  He has worked with the ARC committee throughout the program’s development and is a crucial link between ARC teachers and school administration.  Reagan would play a leading role in contract negotiation procedures, the next step in the program’s implementation.

Faculty conduct contract negotiation whenever there is a school change that could alter working conditions.  During this procedure, teachers and faculty meet during labor negotiation meetings to determine if there is a significant change in working conditions that would require amendments to the employee contract.  

“It all depends on how it gets presented from our side and received by the labor side,” said Reagan.  “We did a survey, and we have a decent amount of support among faculty members, so I feel like there is a positive momentum behind it.  I’m hopeful that that isn’t where we get caught up.”

Despite the uncertainty of the contract negotiation process, Murray still believes that the committee could implement the program in a timely manner.

“We’ve created a fact sheet that has answers to staff questions that will be sent out to them, in addition to a mock schedule and a description of what an ARC advisor does,” said Murray.  “Upon feedback from them, the hope is that by second semester of next year, we might be looking at a transition. That’s the hope.”

Still, the ARC program has its critics.  Some teachers have expressed fears that the block would cut precious time out of their classes.  AP teachers, already subjected to tight testing schedules, could feel the time reduction the most.  They fear losing seven to nine minutes of class each day.  Spanish teacher Gretchen Houseman prefers to look at this time reduction differently.

“Instead of seeing it as time lost, I am thinking of it as time reallocated for another purpose,” said Houseman.  “For example, a student who is strong in English maybe doesn’t need those seven minutes of English instruction, but needs an extra thirty minutes of math instruction.”

Despite the positive outlook of committee members, there are some drawbacks to the program’s implementation.  In addition to the reduction in class time, teachers have also expressed concern with the number of students that they would instruct during this period.  From an outside perspective, helping fifteen students during a forty-minute period may seem manageable.  However, this would leave teachers with a mere two minutes and forty-five seconds per student.

While student numbers could be managed through the use of the computer program, the software implementation would impact the tight school budget.  Declining school choice figures have hit Hudson hard, and finding an extra $1,500 to $3,000 may be easier said than done.

Even if there were ample funds in the budget, Hudson’s history with the failed clustering program could hamper implementation.  Some long standing Hudson High staff members remember its failure and are cautious of implementing another advisory program.

Still, there is a clear and pressing decline in school culture.  Using an advisory program may be a resolution to this decline, although it must be implemented cautiously.  The precedent of clustering shows that changing the school schedule never has been and never will be a simple and controversy-free process.  

The school can take steps to reduce these hurdles.  Beginning with a semester-long pilot program would allow for students and staff to get a sense for the program without risking the potential drawbacks of long term implementation.  If there are flaws, staff could redesign the program based on what they learned during the pilot period.

Advisory programs are a fixture of many American high schools.  It is time for Hudson High School to step up by providing a program that meets the needs of both students and staff.

0 241

by Lily Clardy

For years, the school has combined the ninth grade honors and academic students in the same English and history classes, but this structure disrupts students’ overall learning. Honors and academic students work at different paces, so why put them together?

“It was enforced to lift the level of challenge because in the real world we don’t separate people by skill level,” Curriculum Coordinator Todd Wallingford said.

The separation of academic students and honors students into different classes happens only in ninth grade science and math classes.

In history and English, the class can focus on one essential question the whole year. This gives both levels time to process the information. But, in science and math, students are separated based on how quickly they can comprehend the material.  

Separating the academic and honors students in English and history would benefit everyone. Students would get to learn at a pace that’s right for them, and they would all be challenged at their own level.

While conducting a survey for ninth grade students, out of 64 responses, 34 percent of the students said that they do not want academic and honors students separated. But, 66 percent of ninth grade students said yes, they do want academic and honors students separated.

Of the 64 students surveyed, 20.3 percent were academic students, and 79.7 percent were honors. So, looking at the data gathered, the majority of students who voted were honors students.

In the survey, I asked students why they feel the way that they do. The most commonly chosen answers were that the honors students could be going through a lot more material, the class moves too fast for the academic students, the class moves too slow for honor students, and the academic students take longer to complete an assignment.

Not only will students benefit from this change, but teachers will also. Some teachers think that having two different levels of students in one class is extremely hard to manage and stressful to teach the same material to students who learn at completely different paces. It is practically two classes, but it’s the illusion of one.

Mixing academic and honors students is unfair to the honors students because it’s based off of the belief that the honors students will positively influence the academic students.

Since the material delivered to the class is sometimes easier for the honors students, it  can cause those students to play around because they know they can get it done in a shorter amount of time than they were given.

If this change is enforced, honor students would be faced with a lot more challenges and they would be able to work at their pace with students at their own level. Academic students will also get to learn at their own pace and their work will not always be compared to the honors students.


0 260

by Veronica Hayward-Mildish

Mental health seems to be regarded as less important than a person’s physical health. But, mental health is just as important as physical health, if not more, and it should be given the same treatment.

Mental health is the wellbeing of someone’s emotional, psychological, and social aspects of their life. Mental Health is impacted from biological factors, such as genetics, and the chemistry of one’s brain. It is impacted by a range of things, from a fight with family to having trouble in a class.

Mental health can be impacted at any age, at any time.

According to the MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey, though depressive symptoms have decreased in the last couple of years, in both the town and region, suicide rates and self-harm rates have not changed. No specific numbers have been released by the district.

School Counselor Jamie Gravelle helps around 50 students at a time, and there has been an increase in the amount of students she sees by 20% in the past couple of years.

Despite all of these factors, physical health is often still seen as more important than mental health.

And yes, physical health can impact someone’s everyday life where they wouldn’t be able to continue as normal, but this also occurs for those with mental health issues.

With four semesters of wellness classes, one would expect that these classes cover a variety of concepts related to one’s well being. Yet there is a clear focus on physical health, with lessons on weight training, team building, cardio, workout planning, CPR, hygiene, aerobics, and more. The strongest focus on mental health is in ninth grade, with lessons related to stress reduction and depression. There is little taught on mental health in other grades.

“There’s really no difference between asthma or diabetes to anxiety or depression,” says Gravelle.

Despite this lack of difference, physical and mental health issues are treated differently in the classroom.

Those students with mental health issues should be able to have restrictions like people with physical health issues do. Some students with 504s, IEPs, and BCAPs are able to get specific accommodations, such as an extended due date for assignments, presenting to smaller groups for classroom presentations, or in the very rare situation, a dismissal of a paper. But that still doesn’t equal the accommodations given to students with concussions, who are able to have work loads eliminated completely.

Once schools recognize that mental health and physical health concerns are equal, we will be able to progress more as a society, and we will encourage people with mental health issues to tell more people about it and reach out for help.

Gravelle explained how she definitely felt there are students with issues that she doesn’t know about.

A student who has been diagnosed with depression and anxiety explained how they felt about the treatment of mental health.

“Some people think it’s just laziness and being a teenager and don’t help with anything.”

This student has been diagnosed for four years and has been getting the school’s assistance with it for the same amount of time. This student has been given extensions on work, but they mostly have to check in with teachers more often.

They feel that the help that they’re getting isn’t sufficient and that people don’t fully understand mental illnesses. If people put in more effort to understand mental health and mental illnesses, then we would be in a much better place, and we would be taking a step in the right direction.

0 145
CNN and The New York Times have been described by President Trump as "fake news." | by Clement Doucette

by Clement Doucette

In an interview with conservative commentator Mike Huckabee, President Trump commented that “the media is — really, the word, I think one of the greatest of all terms I’ve come up with — is fake.”  

During the 2016 election cycle, Russian outlets published news stories to social media websites that were truly fake.  However, Trump took this phrase and distorted it into an attack against mainstream media outlets, particularly CNN and the New York Times.  Of course, national media is not without its flaws; all media is biased to a degree, and coverage on CNN and broadcast news can sometimes be brief or surface-level.  Still, publications such as the New York Times and the Washington Post use fact checking and journalistic integrity.  

While media analysts have described dishonest journalism as  “fake news” for many years, the president’s talking points drive a frightening point into the minds of American youth.  Media illiteracy is a serious problem that should be thoroughly addressed.

At Hudson High School, teachers have noted an increase in students’ disbelief of mainstream media sources and an inability to find appropriate media sources.  Teacher Amy Plackowski works to include aspects of media understanding and literacy into her AP Language, dystopian literature, and linguistics classes.

“In AP Language, we are looking at rhetoric and credible sources,” said Plackowski.  “In dystopian lit we are talking about censorship and the media, what is credible, and what is not.  Even in linguistics, we talk about language and how it can be manipulated.  I think there are a lot of us teaching it.”

While teachers have been including these valuable lessons in their classes, Plackowski noted a lack of continuity across departments.  

“If we have a lecture in history or in another class about finding a credible source, students may not be able to transfer that understanding to an English class,” said Plackowski. “Then, we have to kind of start all over again talking about what credible sources are.”

Plackowski cited the work of librarian Jessica Caron as being integral to finding appropriate sources.  She has been working with students to teach universally applicable research methods and basic media literacy skills.   

“I think this dovetails really nicely with a lot of content.  For example, science teachers can talk about how to tell if a study is a good study.  I think there is definitely room for this,” said Plackowski.

Still, there is more to be done.  

Elizabeth Albota teaches an elective class on media literacy in which students learn how to find bias in the media and in research sources.  However, Albota’s class has been met with low enrollment and a widespread lack of understanding of media bias from students.

“I think we’ve just hit a point in America where there’s so much information that none of it is making sense to anybody,” said Albota.  “I think there is a problem in that my generation is assuming that there are things in place for your generation that are not in place. Your generation grew up with different understandings of information.”

In addition to the the generational gap, Albota noted that high school classes generally lack detailed lessons on media literacy.  These lessons often require too much time to teach during her English classes, since students often do not have strong background knowledge about locating media bias.  Still, the low enrollment of Albota’s media literacy class and the lack of understanding from students underscores the need for more instruction on this subject.  

Freshman Bianca Chaves appreciated the idea of increased media literacy lessons and noted that she would have difficulties in locating reliable sources and media bias.

“I’ve never come across a fake news story before,” said Chaves.  “If a story were obviously fake, I would know it, but if it were something that sounded true, I would think that it’s true.”

Exposing students to a wide range of credible media sources and fact-checking lessons would help to alleviate this problem.  Chaves noted that some of her classmates use the term “fake news” to refer to CNN and other mainstream media sources without knowledge of what the term truly means. It seemed as though these students were repeating sound bites from speeches given by Trump.

“I think these students are saying that CNN is fake news to a point where they are making others believe it,” said Chaves.  “I think this is harmful, especially to some students who are new here or who don’t know that CNN isn’t fake news.”

Combatting this misinformation begins with offering students a selection of appropriate media sources and information regarding improper sources.  Clearly, students spreading misinformation is a prime source for fake news misconceptions.  Freshman Josh Czerwinski is aware of current events and keeps track of the news through multiple credible sources.  Although he noted that some sources he views are biased, he does not think that they are “fake news.”  

“Oftentimes [the bias] will vary,” said Czerwinski.  “I could think that NPR is biased towards one topic, but less biased for others.  It varies depending on the article.  I don’t use CNN or Fox News too often, and I wouldn’t say that they are fake. I think they are average news networks and are biased towards some topics, but they can be completely reliable and give proven facts.”

Czerwinski also noted that Trump’s “fake news” rhetoric is harmful and misguided.

“I think it is harmful to call these sources fake news because they can be very reputable depending on what they are talking about,” said Czerwinski. “I feel like Trump is saying that if the news is against him, then it is fake.  I know that this did happen and that these are facts.”

Although students joke that “CNN is fake news,” I experienced difficulty finding students who truly believe this rhetoric.  Still, the need for media literacy is underestimated.  The lack of media literacy at Hudson High School presents itself with subtlety.  In general, students do not believe Trump’s rhetoric word for word.  Rather, they consume media without the proper background for finding bias or for fact checking.  

Clearly, classes run on tight schedules. Still, including time for media literacy is of the utmost importance. Making media literacy a mandatory component of the eighth grade curriculum could give students the background they need.  In eighth grade, students are impressionable and could learn harmful misinformation from their peers and older students.  Teaching these young high schoolers about media literacy would give these students analysis skills to last throughout high school and beyond.  Otherwise, misinformation and insidious Russian-bot fake news stories may prevail.

1 464
Senior Elizabeth Cautela reads the morning announcements during spirit week. | by Clement Doucette

by Clement Doucette

The morning announcements are an integral part of Hudson High School’s daily routine.  

Each morning, I join seniors Elizabeth Cautela and Lauren Eadie in reading the announcement script over the loudspeaker.  Typically, we improvise, tell jokes, and add humor to enliven the plain script.  Still, our voices can go unheard.  Some students ignore the announcements, choosing instead to talk over them.  

Although there is little time for socialization during the school day, ignoring the morning announcements and our Friday Morning Lights broadcasts is a sign of disrespect.  This behavior reflects a larger, school-wide problem; arts programs at HHS go ignored and students’ work goes unseen.  

Elizabeth Cautela has faced this problem.  In addition to the morning announcements, Cautela creates short films, spends many hours volunteering at HUD-TV, and is an active member of the HHS Drama Society.  She notes that these activities are forgotten in favor of sports.

“I think the school culture is very sports oriented,” said Cautela.  “It’s not really driven towards everybody else.  If you’re not playing a sport, then who are you?”  

Cautela noted that participating in these activities can make students feel like outsiders. Communities within HHS can be insular, and members may not branch out of their cliques.  

“I’m just doing HUD-TV and theater activities now, and I feel like it doesn’t even register to some people that these are a thing,” said Cautela.  “I wish people would support the arts more and go to drama shows to get another perspective on things.  Everything’s not just one way.  We can learn from all these other clubs.”

As an active member of the Drama Society, Cautela has been judged for her role within this group, and she senses that there is a stigma surrounding her participation.  Still, she notes that by participating in the Drama Society, she is no different than other students.  

“Theater is like a sport; you practice a lot, and then you perform like you do in a game,” said Cautela.  “We’re all HHS students, and I think that gets lost along the line somewhere.”

The Drama Society is not the only non-sports aspect of Hudson High School that is neglected; students involved with the fine arts sense that their work is often overlooked.  Ariana Jordan-MacArthur has been involved with the fine arts at Hudson High School and feels that these events are under-promoted.  In her opinion, this is a result of students talking over and neglecting the morning announcements.  

“I think it’s disrespectful that people talk over [the announcements], mostly because there are a lot of people who want to listen to them,” said Jordan-MacArthur.  “People always talk over them, and we can’t hear them.”

Typically, events such as the HHS Art Show and Drama Society productions, are announced through the morning announcements or through sparse promotion on social media.  If students ignore announcements and do not know that these events are set to occur, then fewer students will attend.

“We don’t get to hear the announcements about events going on at the school,” said Jordan-MacArthur.  “This makes it a lot less likely that people will go to these events.”

I understand that changing the culture of a school is difficult, if not impossible.  If students are unwilling to attend non-sports related events, they will not attend them.  However, there is no room to disrespect others’ work.  

Highlighting student accomplishment in the arts through social media would help.  Students who are willing to attend artistic events but may not have heard about these events on the announcements would be informed about them.  An integral part of learning is found in respecting and learning from the ideas and perspectives of others.  Emphasizing creative and artistic pursuits in school would make artistic students feel valued and would provide all students with a platform to showcase their ideas.  Keeping quiet during announcement broadcasts would help to make these ideas known to all students.  

0 248
Junior Pat Fortuna and eighth grader Charles Togneri edit a film at HUD-TV. | by Clement Doucette

by Clement Doucette

Climbing the steep, difficult path up Mount Wachusett proved to be more challenging than any of us had anticipated. My senior mentor, Bruno, led me and my eighth grade friends up the mountain. As new high schoolers, we were inspired by the accomplishments of our senior mentors; we heard their stories of college applications and fond high school memories.

Now, as a senior, I see a startling disconnect between the upperclassmen and the eighth graders. Generally, the two groups are isolated from one another, rarely communicate, and as a result, the eighth graders tend to be the subject of generalizations by the upperclassmen.

“There’s a lot of [eighth graders] that are really intelligent and nice,” said eighth grader Alessa Maiuri. “However, they still get the title of the ‘eighth graders’ and are overall a generally despised grade.”  

The geography of HHS only exacerbates this growing problem, since it relegates eighth graders to their own section of the high school.  The program of studies prevents underclassmen from enrolling in many of the same elective classes as upperclassmen. Consequently, many older students are unaware of the accomplishments and talents of younger students. These two groups can only interact through after school clubs and activities, or through team-building exercises such as the ones held during my eighth grade year.  

“I think some of the upperclassmen don’t classify [the eighth graders] as being part of the high school, even though they sort of are,” said Maiuri.  

Of course, not all seniors view the eighth graders in this way. Clubs such as HUD-TV have been successful in connecting students from different grades. Still, these benefits are not extended to all students, as only a fraction are members of these clubs.  

Wellness teacher Dee Grassey taught at Hudson High School during the mentor program’s heyday. She noted that the mentor program acted as an important bridge between upper and lower grades and supports its return.  

“I know they’re coming from a middle school to a high school, which is difficult,” said Grassey.  “Of course, puberty is a big issue, which has to do with their maturity.  I know that those are all factors, and I do think that they need a big brother or sister.”

Although the mentoring program would make the rough transition between middle and high school easier, it requires dedication and input from the seniors.

“The problem with senior mentoring is that seniors have a lot on their plate,” said Grassey.  “What I’ve seen consistently is a problem with keeping it up throughout the year.  It’s that commitment.  The program starts off really great, but by this time of the year, it’s gone.”

Commitment is a problem within any extracurricular activity. Without a system to hold members accountable, students that are not passionate either lose interest or drop out of the program. Others become bogged down with coursework and other extracurriculars.  Senior Ariana Jordan-MacArthur expressed these concerns.

“I just remember it being a really, really fun trip,” said Jordan-MacArthur. “However, I don’t remember being all that connected with my senior buddy.  I mostly just remember having fun with my friends.  I do know that the buddies were there; they were just not really that interactive.”

Despite these issues, Jordan-MacArthur wants to see the program return.  “I would love for [mentors] to come back, and I would love to be [one], too.  I know that our class is very spirited and likes to involve everybody, so I think that if we did bring that back, we would have a lot of people who would be willing to be mentors for the eighth graders.”

Still, any interaction between senior mentors and eighth graders is better than none.  Giving attention to the school’s youngest students could make them feel accepted in the school community.

“With every class, you have that core group that need more help or guidance.  Children sometimes learn more from other children than they do from adults,” said Grassey.  “That’s why I think mentoring programs are so important.”

Despite the efforts of staff members, students must build those connections between the grades. These connections need to be natural and unforced.  Bringing back the mentoring program could build these valuable connections that both eighth graders and seniors desire.

“You can hold meetings and think up great ideas,” said Grassey. “However, if the students don’t follow up with it, there’s nothing one person or an advisor alone can do.”  

Although the program needs to have some degree of structure, providing interested seniors and eighth graders with an interest survey could pair like-minded students. Having an eighth grade mentee or a senior mentor with similar interests would make these students more willing to talk and to continue the program.

When I participated, my mentor and I did not share much common ground, and as a result, I did not learn as much from him as I could have.  The keys to a successful mentoring program are natural conversations, shared interests, and meaningful dialogue.

0 446
Grade 9 course selections: 2017-2018 | by Brianna Cabral

by Brianna Cabral

Freshmen are given 44 electives to choose from, 36 of those electives being fine arts or technology/business, which only leaves 8 other academic electives. Freshmen should not be burdened with course limitations and fewer academic options due to their youth.

This system was put in to separate the upper- and underclassmen. The school tried to keep certain electives available to only eighth and ninth graders, and most electives are specific to grades 10-12 due to more advanced topics. One of the biggest concerns was having 13-15 year olds grouped with 16-18 year olds because of the difference in maturity. But this did not entirely prevent them from being in the same classes.

These age groups already interact. Freshmen can take classes with juniors and seniors in their electives and language classes.

The world language classes include all grades.  In my own Portuguese class last year, when I was a eighth grader, I had a senior, a junior and a handful of sophomores. We see them throughout the halls and at lunch every day. Student athletes are most likely on teams with seniors and other upperclassmen. Only the core classes like history, science, English, and even math separate the grades.

These restrictions prevent freshmen from taking Contemporary Legal Issues, all World Cultures classes, Ethics, Economic Theories, Cold War Era & Film, Sociology, Astronomy, Zoology, Marine Ecology, TV News, Honors Accounting I, Architecture & Interior Design, Exploring Mobile Apps, Photography, Advanced Theatre Studies(full year), and more.

It is understandable that a freshman may not get into a class because there are more seniors/juniors requesting it. Without the ability to even sign up for the class, freshmen have no chance.

For some classes this restriction make sense. To take anatomy and physiology, students need to have taken biology. Students take biology freshman year. But for other classes listed above, there is no requirement to take another class prior to that one.

Sometimes the content requires this separation of grades. June Murray’s World Culture classes are only open to 10-12th graders. She is “not sure that World Cultures is an appropriate class for freshmen. As an anthropology course there is candid discussion of human behaviors that may not be appropriate content for younger students.”

Freshmen and sophomores are only one year apart, but according to Murray, “sophomore year most students are beginning to develop academic independence, something most freshmen do not have.” Murray has had experience with teaching freshmen before, so she knows how they learn. “Whether we are 50 or 15 we have different needs.”

With four different World Cultures classes, she thinks two would be appropriate for freshmen to take, Middle East and Eastern Faiths.

“[They] have to be interested, and [they] really have to be prepared to take on independent learning, and if [they] are not I don’t want to be in the position where I am holding [their] hand,” Murray says.

The other two World Cultures classes are Latin America Africa and Asia Oceania. They are anthropology classes, so there is talk about human behavior. “It’s a pretty intense correlation between psychology, sociology, and anthropology. I think that the type of conversations we have about human behavior, many ninth grade parents don’t want their 14 year old discussing sexual practices,” Murray believes.

If parents are uncomfortable with their child being exposed to this content, then the child shouldn’t take the class. But, they are already in high school, and for most freshmen they have already been exposed to sexual content from health classes or other sources. By exposing them earlier, then they will likely deal with it better in the future.

Without opening these classes to the lower grades, we are limiting students’ opportunities to take more classes. Now because students can not take the class they wanted freshman year, they have to take it sophomore year, but their schedule is limited. They can’t take many classes. This problem could cause students to miss the opportunity to take the class before they graduate.

This is a prime example of where a new class could be added for ninth graders and maybe even eighth graders. By adding electives for science and social studies at the eighth and ninth grade levels, students will have a greater probability of getting into a class that interests them.

As an eighth grader, I was put into 2 business/technology classes and an art class. These classes do not connect with the career I’m interested in. Even for freshmen year I wished there was an extra wellness elective or medical classes because that is what I want to do in my future.

Adding more electives will engage students and better prepare them for their future, and isn’t that what schools should be doing?

0 429

by Thomas Freeman

The rapid foreign and domestic policy changes by the Trump administration have hurt American interests at home and abroad.  We have withdrawn from a significant trade deal cutting some economic ties with Asia as well as our American partners. At home, Trump has erased an Obama-era protection of transgender people, enraging advocates and possibly endangering transgender people themselves.

Donald Trump is currently in the process of breaking apart the Trans Pacific Pact (TPP) trade deal. Former President Barack Obama treated trade deals as a priority during his tenure, and this particular deal would have bolstered America’s position in the Asia-Pacific region, where China is growing in influence.  Donald Trump has disagreed saying it favored big business and claiming it was a horrible trade deal.

But in order to understand the significance of this policy change, it’s important to what the trade is.  When it was drafted, President Obama and other world leaders hoped that the TPP would strengthen economic ties between these nations, slashing tariffs and fostering trade to boost growth. Members also hoped to foster a closer relationship on economic policies and regulation.

The TPP was designed so that it could eventually create a new single market, something like that of the EU; but all 12 nations needed to ratify it before it could come into effect. However, the victory of Donald Trump in last year’s Presidential election was the writing on the wall for the TPP.

U.S. participation was the major linchpin for the deal. It may be possible for the other countries to forge a smaller scale pact in its place, but it can’t go ahead in its current form. Those other member states are Japan – the only country to have already ratified the pact – Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru. All taxes would be removed for goods for countries in the agreement.  

After the U.S. pulled out of the TPP, China expressed an interest in joining, which would further strengthen their hold in the region and weaken the U.S. significantly. Backing out of this trade deal could be the action that cuts the U.S. out of one of the most rapidly growing economies in the world, potentially weakening America’s future as an economic superpower.

Trump has also removed protection for transgender people using the bathroom of their identity. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer defended the action as a “state’s rights issue,” adding that Trump believes that individual states and districts should set their own policies. This means that nothing should change in the northern or coastal states but in the states where conservative opposition to transgender rights has been stronger, the rights are in danger. This had led to an uptick in hate crimes with authorities classifying four murders of transgender people on March 1 as hate crimes.

Very simply, after a person either undergoes gender reassignment  surgery or otherwise fully commits to one gender, they should use the bathroom that matches their identity. Removing these legal protections puts transgender people in danger.  

These new changes have hurt the United States economic future and have added cause for concern for trans people.  In order to fix this we need to take the initiative and expand our trading influence in Asia. We must also provide protection to minority groups, such as transgender people, before hate crimes become out of control.  

0 666

by Siobhan Richards

Under new leadership, the library is embracing a newly enforced policy — no lunches are allowed. This policy denies students who do not feel comfortable in the cafeteria access to their lunches during their designated lunch break, a problem that needs to be addressed.

Jes Caron, the new librarian, has been making changes to the library. While the policy of banning lunch is practical in keeping the library clean, it does not allow students to eat.

It has always been a school policy to not allow food anywhere but in the cafeteria and especially not in carpeted areas, such as classrooms or the library, but because it is open during lunch, students used to be able to bring food in and eat as long as they cleaned up and were not near the computers.

Now, the librarian has been strictly enforcing this policy and has even put up multiple signs and posters around the library.

The concerns over food in the library are valid, such as not allowing lunch near the computers due to risk of spilling, and it is also not in the librarian’s job description to clean up after students.

Small tidy snacks have been allowed thus far; however, students cannot be expected to eat a few snacks and call it lunch.

Nonetheless, students need a place to go if they are uncomfortable or intimidated by the loud and noisy cafeteria. The library is the only safe-haven for students at lunch time, and because of the lunch policy many students are sacrificing their health.

“Lunch is extremely important for high school students for a number of reasons. Students need to maintain their nutritional value throughout the day,” said Wellness teacher Wayne Page. “It’s not good to not eat for a significant portion of the day. A student needs breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as everything in between, especially for students at this age group of eighth to twelfth grade.”

As a teacher who also has lunch duty, Page understands the concerns of eating in the cafeteria saying, “I can see how some students would be a little intimidated by the number of kids that are in the cafeteria.”

He later added that there are lots of tables for students to choose from within the cafeteria, which also raises the concern of friend groups and cliques inside school. For some, the cafeteria is a struggle as students search for a group they fit in with in order to find a seat at a table.

There should be another room in the school that is available at lunchtime for students, and in the past, that place was the library. It is a nice and somewhat quiet area for students to do schoolwork, and there is a section of tables that could serve as lunch tables.

We should find a compromise on this issue.

Students should not be able to eat while at the computers to keep the school’s property clean as well as reserving resources for students. Those other tables, however, should be open for students to eat their lunch. Students who clean up after themselves pose no problem to the library or its staff.

The library should regulate food more strictly than the cafeteria does. For example, students should not bring soup or greasy foods to the library, but the average sandwich should not be a problem.

In terms of the clean up effort, students could clean those tables just as a group of students cleans the cafeteria tables every day.

Lunch should not be approached as all-or-nothing issue. That policy hurts the students that the library is supposed to help.

0 484

by Alex McDonald

With 70-minute blocks a day, students find it difficult to stay on task for all of their classes. Out of 104 students who took the survey on class length and its impact, 95 don’t pay attention all of class. That’s 91%. This causes kids to miss important information, and it could explain why their homework isn’t done or why they failed a test or a quiz. However this issue does have two possible solutions: shortening class times and rethinking the way teachers teach.

As you can imagine, shortening class times wouldn’t drastically change the schedule, maybe just trim 10 minutes off each block to allow for another block a day or a study hall period.

In her editorial on the addition of study halls, Serena Richards published a schedule that would accommodate all of the state’s regulations and include shorter blocks, and maybe even a study period.


Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
Period 1


Block A Block F Block D Block B Block G Block E Block C
Period 2 8:40-9:46 Block B Block G Block E Block C Block A Block F Block D
Study Hall 9:50-10:10 Block C study hall Block A study hall Block F study hall Block D study hall Block B study hall Block G study hall Block E study hall
Period 3 10:14 – 11:20 Block C Block A Block F Block D Block B Block G Block E
Period 4 11:24- 12:56


Block D Block B Block G Block E Block C Block A Block F
Period 5 1:00- 2:03 Block E Block C Block A Block F Block D Block B Block G
Drop Blocks F,G drop D,E drop B,C drop G,A drop E,F drop C,D drop A,B drop


Lunch 1 Lunch 2 Lunch 3
11:25-11:51  (23) 11:25-11:55 (30) 11:20-12:25 (66)
11:5-12:56 (66) 11:59-12:22 (23) 12:29-12:56 (23)
12:26-12:56 (30)

Schedule created by Lucy deMartin, Breanna Lizotte and Siobhan Richards


This schedule still follows all of the educational laws and allows for an extra block in the day. Also this schedule only trims off five minutes from each block. If we were to cut off a little more, even ten minutes, we would have enough time in the day to have six full blocks of education. Blocks would be 60 minutes.

But many would argue against shorter class times because they believe that students would have trouble paying attention no matter the amount of time.  

For example a recent article published in 2014 talks about a study done by psychologists.

According to this study, teenagers have trouble maintaining focus on one thing for an extended period of time. They are able to pay attention to something for about 10-20 minutes, but then they have to refocus. For every time they refocus, their span of attention decreases by 2-5 minutes.

This attention lapse would happen no matter the material or length. Also, the article describing this study was published in 2014. Now, three years later, technology has become an even bigger part of our lives. It mentions in the article that technology can potentially shorten your attention span, so it is possible that the average attention span of a student has gotten shorter since 2014.

According to this study, shorter class times would only help students pay attention if we limited blocks to 20 minutes or less.

However, there is another way to solve this issue. A different article written by a doctor in 2014 also talks about the problem of students not being able to pay attention. This article says that if teachers were to present material in a different way it would help. The article says that if teachers make classes more engaging instead of simply lecturing, students would be able to pick up information and retain it.

Students not being able to pay attention is a problem, but it is a problem we can fix. This isn’t only up to students however; it is teachers who can really make a difference and help students pay attention throughout class.